The Supreme Court handed down five opinions in argued cases and one sumamry reversal, and these decisions were largely unanimous. The Court also dismissed Robertson v. U.S. ex rel. Watson as improvidently granted. Here the Court split 5-4. Those dissenting from the unsigned, per curiam opinion were the Chief Justice, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Sotomayor. The Chief Justice’s dissent begins:
This is a complicated case, but it raises a straightforward and important threshold issue. When we granted certiorari, we rephrased the question presented to focus on that issue: “Whether an action for criminal contempt in a congressionally created court may constitutionally be brought in the name and pursuant to the power of a private person, rather than in the name and pursuant to the power of the United States.” The answer to that question is no. The terrifying force of the criminal justice system may only be brought to bear against an individual by society as a whole, through a prosecution brought on behalf of the government. The court below held otherwise, relying on a dissenting opinion in one of our cases, and on the litigating position of the United States, which the Solicitor General has properly abandoned in this Court. We should correct the lower court’s error and return the case to that court to resolve the remaining questions.